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News / October 4, 2018

News in Brief: A Free Indigenous Arts Guide for Classrooms

Plus: a call to action to end cultural appropriation in Canada, progress on #MeToo and the culture sector, chewing gum as public art, museum crises and more
Education is the focus of a new contemporary Indigenous arts resource created by the Ottawa Art Gallery, and available free online. Photo: Facebook/Ottawa Art Gallery. Education is the focus of a new contemporary Indigenous arts resource created by the Ottawa Art Gallery, and available free online. Photo: Facebook/Ottawa Art Gallery.

From the Capital

The Ottawa Art Gallery has launched the publication and program Contemporary Indigenous Arts in the Classroom. The publication and program “aims to provide elementary and high school–level teachers with curriculum-linked lesson plans designed by contemporary Indigenous artists,” says a release. Jaime Koebel and Barry Ace have each developed an art lesson for the classroom, while the publication contains essays by David Garneau and Wahsontiio Cross. Though the hard copy costs $22, A PDF of the publication is available free online. (Ottawa Art Gallery Press Room, Contemporary Indigenous Arts in the Classroom)

The first retrospective of late artist and poet Alootook Ipellie is on now at Carleton University Art Gallery in Ottawa. “Alootook Ipellie was a well-known Inuk artist, poet and journalist whose artworks were mostly bought by private individuals, not galleries or institutions, making them difficult to track down,” CBC All In a Day reports. “For the past two years, CUAG has worked to find the pieces that make up its new exhibition, ‘Alootook Ipellie: Walking Both Sides of an Invisible Border…’” Heather Igloliorte and Christine Lalonde curated the exhibition with Sandra Dyck. A collection of Ipellie’s original drawings is also on at Ottawa’s Manx Pub. The drawings there focus on “the comic strip Nuna and Vut, which Ipellie drew for the east Arctic newspaper Nunatsiaq News between 1994 and 1997.” (CBC All in a Day)

The Sobey Art Award finalists chat about their new National Gallery show. The Ottawa Citizen takes a look at the new Sobey Art Award finalist show, which opened yesterday at the National Gallery of Canada. Finalist Joi T. Arcand, who has created an installation of Cree syllabics on a set of gallery steps, is quoted as saying, “I’m imagining what the world would look like if we promoted Indigenous languages the same way we do English and French.” Works by Jeneen Frei Njootli, Jordan Bennett, Kapwani Kiwanga and Jon Rafman are also discussed. (Ottawa Citizen)

Arts Day on the Hill campaigned for government to boost funding and also clear up myths about artist taxation.  On October 2, representatives from dozens of Canadian arts organizations took to Parliament Hill to meet with MPs about urgent arts-sector issues. According to an opinion piece by Banff Centre program coordinator Ainslee Beer in the Hill-Times, a message to Parliamentarians to “increase investment for Canadian Heritage’s Canada Arts Presentation Fund” was one focus, while also asking for improved policies on classification of income and interpretation of business expenses for artists. The latter push follows an episode this spring when the Canada Revenue Agency told Halifax artist Steve Higgins was told he must pay $14,495.37 in back taxes. “Resolution for these issues is underway with collaboration between the Canadian Arts Coalition, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the CRA,” Beer writes. “The result will hopefully be an updated, fully-accessible tax folio which results in clearer guidelines to help artists prepare their taxes accurately and for CRA agents to assess appropriately, and we recommend that solutions ensure the taxation and auditing processes align with the realities of professional artists working primarily in the not-for-profit sector.” (Hill-Times, Canadian Arts Coalition)

Stolen Goods

Artists Jay Soule and Nadine St-Louis have launched Reclaim Indigenous Arts, a website and call to action to end cultural appropriation in Canada. Citing the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, the Reclaim Indigenous Arts website demands “fines and penalties for tourist gift shops that sell inauthentic Indigenous items,” “a ban on cultural appropriation” and “a process to authenticate Indigenous artwork and products sold in galleries and stores throughout Canada.” It also calls upon Indian and Northern Affairs Canada to “enforce the repatriation of sacred objects and cultural artefacts that were stolen from Indigenous people across Canada during the forced assimilation policy.” (Huffington Post, Reclaim Indigenous Arts)

Armand Tatossian paintings recovered on Kijiji. “When Mary Tatossian came across a painting online done by her late brother, renowned Canadian artist Armand Tatossian, she was shocked,” CBC As It Happens reports. “That’s because the painting had been stolen over a decade ago.” It continues, “a 51-year-old man was arrested on Sept. 20. He has since been released, and is expected to be charged with theft and possession of stolen goods.” (CBC As It Happens)

A Calgary artist has accused West Elm of copying her work on a duvet cover. Artist Jill Paddock had her paintings on display in a Calgary West Elm store for several months—then noticed that a new duvet cover from the company looked a lot like her canvas. West Elm says they are looking into it. (CBC Calgary)

Art in Court

When does AI become an appropriating artist? Relating to this question is a lawsuit filed in August. Montreal artist Adam Basasanta has created a computer-based artwork that generates abstract images from scanners and then compares them to actual existing works of art displayed online.  As the Globe reports, “Amel Chamandy, owner of Montreal’s Galerie NuEdge, alleges in a lawsuit filed in Quebec Superior Court in August that a single image from [artist Adam] Basanta’s project All We’d Ever Need Is One Another violated both the copyright on her photographic work Your World Without Paper (2009) and the trademark she owns on her name.”  The Globe adds: “Teresa Scassa, a professor at the University of Ottawa who specializes in information law, said this is the first lawsuit of its kind that she’s seen. But she expects there to be many more as industries, especially creative ones, move toward automation and the use of artificial intelligence.” (Globe and Mail)

#MeToo and the Arts

An American artist’s performance at Calgary performance biennial Mountain Standard Time has been cancelled, and his work pulled from a group show there, due to sexual assault allegations.  Earlier this year, Steve Roggenbuck—a poet and performer whose work had previously been shown in the 2015 New Museum Triennial—had been scheduled to do a performance at Mountain Standard Time on October 6, and his work was included in the Untitled Art Society group exhibition, “What if we were alive,” running August 29 to November 2. On October 2, a Twitter user posted screenshots of a series of texts between her and Steve Roggenbuck from when she was 16 years old and he was over 20 years old. Other people, including at least one of Roggenbuck’s former partners, affirmed Roggenbuck’s predatory behaviour. On October 3, Untitled Art Society stated  on Twitter, “Yesterday we were made aware of @steveroggenbuck’s history of predatory sexual behaviour and abuse of power in his community, and beyond it. In response to this knowledge, we have decided to remove his work from our current exhibition ‘What if we were alive.’” Also on October 3, Mountain Standard Time stated on its website and social media platforms that “We have cancelled Steve Roggenbuck’s performance….We will continue discussions about our role in this issue once the biennial is completed.” (@christlover2000@UASCalgary, Mountain Standard Time)

The Cultural Human Resources Council has launched its new anti-harassment project, Respectful Workplaces in the Arts. The project currently offers online training resources on harassment specific to the cultural sector. Coming up this fall and winter are “training videos for artists/workers/employees; training video for employers (including boards); a code of conduct for the live performing arts; webcasts on provincial and territorial legislation relating to harassment; cross-country consultations with equity-seeking groups; report with recommendations on ‘Reporting and Investigating Mechanisms in Cases of Harassment’; and train-the-trainer sessions.” Free PDFs and other resources for advertising campaigns are provided, too. (press release, Respectful Workplaces in the Arts)

This year’s Rendezvous with Madness Festival in Toronto has a couple of screenings related to #MeToo. The feature documentary My Talk with Florence, screening on October 12 at the Art Gallery of Ontario, about how Florence Burnier-Bauer fled the sexual, physical and psychological abuse of the “Austrian counterculture community Friedrichshof, led by the infamous Vienna Actionist artist Otto Mühl.” (Mühl was later indicted for sexual offenses toward minors, as well as drug infractions, and jailed for more than six years.) A short-film program, titled #MeToo: Dystopian Reality, includes the 2018 Canadian-made film Rape Card which is set in a dystopian future where rape is legal. (Rendezvous with Madness film program)

Public Art

Learn more about the works in Edmonton’s new Indigenous Sculpture Park. Curator Candice Hopkins chats with Hyperallergic about the park’s name, ᐄᓃᐤ (ÎNÎW), and works by Marianne Nicolson, Amy Malbeuf, Jerry Whitehead, Duane Linklater, Mary Anne Barkhouse and Tiffany Shaw-Collinge. (Hyperallergic)

The latest public art exhibition at Toronto’s Bentway is up. “If, But, What If?” includes works by Sans façon, Jon Sasaki, Steven Beckly, Wally Dion, Mani Mazinani and Sanaz Mazinani, and Alex McLeod. It’s up until November 30. The Bentway is also preparing for a three-day Canadian premiere October 12 to 14 of Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde’s WATERLICHT, which has previously been staged in London, Paris and Amsterdam. (Bentway)

Kid-created chewing gum set to debut as public art in Vancouver—just in time for Halloween. Artists Helen Reed and Hannah Jickling are due to launch a new public artwork commissioned by the City of Vancouver, QA CHEW’S BUBBLE TROUBLE, created as part of a long-term collaboration with Grade 6 and 7 students at Queen Alexandra Elementary School. On Halloween, the gum will be distributed at select East Vancouver locations, in addition to homes across Mount Pleasant, Commercial Drive and the Hastings-Sunrise area. The Western Front will serve as the main distribution hub on October 31 from 5 to 8 p.m. Following that, the gum will be available at select retail outlets and at the Front, where it is part of a group exhibition until December 15.

Nuit Blanches across Canada, recapped. Several cities and towns hosted nighttime art events this past week. CBC Arts offers a snapshot of events in Toronto, Saskatoon, Gimli, Winnipeg, Sydney, Regina, Kelowna and Edmonton. (CBC Arts)


Canadian museums need better federal funding, and a new national museum policy. That’s the conclusion of a new report by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. In all, the committee has made 15 recommendations to the government. The feds have 120 days to respond. (Canadian Art)

The new Royal Alberta Museum has opened in Edmonton. The new museum has double the square footage of the old one, making it Western Canada’s biggest museum yet. (Edmonton Journal)

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has commissioned new works from seven artists. As part of its Connections program, Arwa Abouon, Maria Ezcurra and Nuria Carton de Grammont, Brendan Fernandes, Hua Jin, Karen Tam, Pavitra Wickramasinghe and Z’otz* Collective have been invited to create a work “to initiate a transhistorical and contemporary dialogue on the topic of the MMFA’s collections of world cultures, with a focus on African, Asian, Middle Eastern and Pre-Columbian art.” (emailed press release)

Awards and Honours

Artist Gareth Moore, also known as Ashes Withyman, will be the 2018 CIBC Artist in Residence at Fogo Island Arts. Based in Montreal, his work has been shown at Documenta and the Glasgow International, among other international venues. The award will permit the artist to undertake a residency on Fogo Island. (emailed press release)

Market Updates

Canadian women are in the spotlight at Frieze. Solo booths are there for Gathie Falk, Elizabeth McIntosh and Zadie Xa, with Vikky Alexander and Sara Cwynar doing a two-person booth. (Canadian Art)

And already some of their work is being picked up. ArtNews reports that works by Zadie Xa will be headed to the collection of the Box museum in Plymouth, England, thanks to the Contemporary Art Society’s Collections Fund at Frieze. On the first day of preview sales, works by Gathie Falk went to collections in New York and Belgium. (ArtNews)

Heffel and the Burrard Arts Foundation are collaborating on an online auction. The auction, which began October 3, features 26 works by artists including Colleen Heslin, Brendan Tang and Shawn Hunt. A large portion of the sale proceeds will benefit BAF. The auction preview October 3 to 8 will be the first event held in BAF’s new premises at 258 East 1st Avenue, which includes improved exhibition space and two artists’ studios instead of one. The auction will wrap up online October 17. It’s the first time Heffel has collaborated on such an endeavour, say auction house spokespeople. (emailed press release)

Leah Sandals

Leah Sandals is a writer and editor based in Toronto. Her arts journalism has appeared in the Toronto Star, National Post and Globe and Mail, among other publications, and her creative work has been published in Prism, Room and Freefall. She can be reached via